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American writer Lucia Vail, miserably divorced, decides to smother her sorrows in the creation of a Charlotte Bronte novel--so she rents Bloodrose House, a pleasant Yorkshire property owned by the unseen Hon. Anthony Farr, who tends the Ravensmoor estate of his absent Viscount brother. Soon Lucia is drawn into the attractive society of her neighbors: the ruddy-faced ""Admiral,"" Will Luddington; Adelaide and Olivia Ambrose, feisty octogenarian sisters; their witty, handsome, and ""susceptible"" great-nephew Simon Myles; and the Goodfriends--eccentric vicar Cedric, sensible Peg, and their daughter Iris (punk hair-do, flour-white-and-crimson makeup). Somewhat less appealing are cool, remote Dr. Jenna--and Lady Quelling-Steele, an unsettling sort who warns Lucia to steer clear of her still-unseen landlord, Tony Farr. But eventually Lucia does meet Tony--in an embarrassing encounter on his land, later at the Admiral's party. And far more sinister than Tony himself (who does have ""dark edgy eyes"") is unstrung recluse Miss Morgan, who was once nurse to Tony's dead wife Helen--the former mistress of Bloodrose House! Why does Miss Morgan urge Lucia to leave the house? Is Miss M. responsible for gothic goings-on to scare Lucia? (Cries in the night, broken windows, etc.) Why will no one--including Lucia's nice new friends--talk about the late, great Helen Farr? Was she a saint. . . or something else Well, gradually Lucia uncovers some long-buffed secrets and finds an unexpected love--before attempted murder and suicide usher in the finale. A chatty mixture of village-mystery and romantic suspense in the Rebecca mold: not quite so peppy as The Talisman (1979), but atmospheric and convivial.

Pub Date: April 12th, 1985
Publisher: St. Martin's